1Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Building 001, Room 140, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705, U.S.A.; 2Department of Plant Science, Hubei University, Wuhan, People's Republic of China; 3Department of Plant Pathology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, U.S.A.
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Accepted 11 April 2002.
Strains of Enterobacter cloacae show promise as biocontrol agents for Pythium ultimum-induced damping-off on cucumber and other crops. E. cloacae A145 is a mini-Tn5 Km transposon mutant of strain 501R3 that was significantly reduced in suppression of damping-off on cucumber caused by P. ultimum. Strain A145 was deficient in colonization of cucumber, sunflower, and wheat seeds and significantly reduced in colonization of corn and cowpea seeds relative to strain 501R3. Populations of strain A145 were also significantly lower than those of strain 501R3 at all sampling times in cucumber, wheat, and sunflower rhizosphere. Populations of strain A145 were not detectable in any rhizosphere after 42 days, while populations of strain 501R3 remained at substantial levels throughout all experiments. Molecular characterization of strain A145 indicated mini-Tn5 Km was inserted in a region of the E. cloacae genome with a high degree of DNA and amino acid sequence similarity to rpiA, which encodes ribose-5-phosphate isomerase. In Escherichia coli, RpiA catalyzes the interconversion of ribose-5-phosphate and ribulose-5-phosphate and is a key enzyme in the pentose phosphate pathway. Ribose-5-phosphate isomerase activity in cell lysates from strain A145 was approximately 3.5% of that from strain 501R3. In addition, strain A145 was a ribose auxotroph, as expected for an rpiA mutant. Introduction of a 1.0-kb DNA fragment containing only the rpiA homologue into strain A145 restored ribose phosphate isomerase activity, prototrophy, seedling colonization, and disease suppression to levels similar to those associated with strain 501R3. Experiments reported here indicate a key role for rpiA and possibly the pentose phosphate pathway in suppression of damping-off and colonization of subterranean portions of plants by E. cloacae.
The American Phytopathological Society, 2002